Episode 52 - Entrepreneur Experience: Andy Zurcher Co-Founder & CEO of Kidiosity

EPISODE 52

Entrepreneur Experience: Andy Zurcher Co-Founder & CEO of Kidiosity

In this episode, Andy Zurcher, Co-Founder and CEO of Kidiosity, speaks about finding balance between the grittiness of growing a startup along and the patience that is needed especially while raising kids Andy talks about why him and his partner started Kidiosity to strengthen families and help today’s busy parents spend more intentional, quality time with their children. Listen now!

Are you an entrepreneur AND a parent? Then listen up, this episode is for you! In this episode Cynthia Del’Aria talks with Andy Zurcher, co-founder and CEO of Kidiosity. Andy has over 20 years of experience as an early-stage executive. He led product, design, and engagement at HomeAdvisor (now Angi) as it grew from pre-revenue to over $200M and acquisition by IAC. In this episode, he speaks about finding balance between the grittiness of growing a startup along and the patience that is needed especially while raising kids. Andy talks about why he and his partner started Kidiosity to strengthen families and help today’s busy parents spend more intentional, quality time with their children. Check out Andy Zurcher’s recommended resources: The Lean Startup Book How I Built This Podcast Connect and follow Andy on LinkedIn, email Andy (Andy@kidiosity.com), or learn more about Kidiosity. Be sure to like, share, and subscribe to Precursa: The Startup Journey on your favorite podcasting platform and tune in for the next episode! Email us with any questions or comments (startup@precursa.com). Check out our website (https://www.precursa.com) for more information on getting your startup rolling.

(00:04): Straight to you from Denver, Colorado, this is Precursa: The Startup Journey. We share the ins and outs of building a tech startup from inception, to launch, to revenue and beyond. If you’ve ever wondered what building a startup from scratch really looks like, you’re in the right place. With full transparency and honesty, we reveal it all about Precursa on our ride from idea to exit: the wins, the lessons learned, and the unexpected twists and turns. (00:37): Hello everybody. And welcome back. This is Precursa the startup journey, and today we’re continuing our entrepreneur experience segment. My guest today is Andy Zurcher, who is the co-founder and CEO of curiosity, a company that’s helping busy parents spend more quality time with their kids of all ages. Andy is a Colorado native and he has over 20 years of experience as an executive with early stage companies, including leading product design and engagement at home advisor. He’s passionate about strengthening families and he’s got the grit and guts of a true entrepreneur without further ado. Welcome to the show, Andy. (01:18): Thank you so much, Cynthia. It’s great to be here. (01:21): You’re welcome. So why don’t you just start by telling us a little bit about yourself and how did you become an entrepreneur? Like what about this seemed like a good idea. (01:29): <laugh> gosh, it’s, it’s actually a little bit funny as I look back and school and in MBA school, I remember sort being drawn a little bit towards entrepreneurship type classes and, and that kind of thing, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I’m honestly not sure. I still know all the details of what (01:45): That means. Does anybody know what that means? Right. (01:47): Certainly not all of what it means, but I came back after MBA school. I was born in, like you said, and born and raised in Colorado and, and was super excited to get back to Colorado. And, and so came back and took a job with Samsonite and Samsonite being founded in Colorado and a local company here. Many people don’t know that and, and worked for a couple years there and, and things kind of took a downward turn and they started moving headquarters back to Providence, Rhode Island. And I thought to myself, uh, I just got home. Uh, I’m not, you know, gonna move back. And so, so I happened to just network my way and, and went to lunch with a couple of guys who were very smart. This was right when in 1999, when the internet was sort of a new thing. And yeah, and I knew that there was a lot there, but I didn’t, nobody really knew kind of where things were going or anything else. (02:37): It was just sort of something that I thought this would be fun to be a part of. And so I went out to lunch with, um, these two gentlemen and was really impressed with their vision and what they were thinking about doing. And that became a reason for me to sort of jump into what was at the time called it wasn’t even called service magic then which then we rebranded to home advisor, which is now rebranded Angie. Yeah. And one of the, the real kind of shining stars of technology companies in, in Colorado. And, you know, I, I was, I think probably one of around the first dozen employees there, I was hired as the first kind of marketing person. Wow. And that turned into product management, which then turned into sort of other responsibilities as we grew from, you know, 12 to 1200 people or so, um, over my decade plus there. (03:26): Wow. Um, and so that was essentially my entree into entrepreneurship and really kind of lucked out and was a part of a, a wildly growing fast and crazy both macro time, but also just, you know, what the company did and, and how we grew and, and were able to succeed, sort of gave me the, the bug of, wow, this is really fun to build something. And so I’ve always gravitated towards earlier stage things and it gets in your blood, I think, as you know, a little bit about <laugh> and, and it’s just hard to then spend time at a, a, you know, a bigger, more established company where your, your role is, is fairly limited. Yeah. When you’ve had a taste of being responsible for so many different things and oh yeah. And the pressure of that, the excitement of that, the enthusiasm that goes into all of that is hard to replicate. Um, (04:24): For sure. Yeah. This inevitably happens with, you know, my larger fractional CTO clients, but I’ve got one right now. That’s like, will you come work for us? And I’m like, that sounds really great right now, because I know I’m about to have to go kick up my sales cycle again, which is always like a thing. Right. Yep. But I just know what happens, you know, I get a year in two years in and I’m like, what am I doing with my life? <laugh>, it’s so hard to make that switch from like, I’m in control of my destiny. And if I wanna make a couple, a hundred extra thousand dollars, I just go sell more. And if I wanna scale down and go on vacation, I just do that. Like, it it’s so different working for someone else than it is being an entrepreneur. And like you said, I’m, I’m not sure anybody really knows what that means. <laugh> even those of us who have been doing it for 20 plus years. Right. (05:12): <laugh> right. You know, the interesting part to that, that, that I’ve found fascinating in this most recent endeavor is the eight feet around the table of I’m thinking about sort of a boardroom table. Yeah. Where I was a part of these entrepreneurial sort of ventures and startups, but they weren’t mine. It, it wasn’t sort of my, um, and so that eight feet around the table is really about eight miles in, in terms of the difference between being the, you know, sitting at the head of the table and being kind of responsible. And, and I certainly have a co-founder and, and, but it’s our thing. Yeah. And, and it’s very different than being an early employee at an early startup, which is also awesome. Yeah. But the, the amount of pressure and intensity, and, you know, hopefully the rewards are all magnified so much. Yes. When you’re actually sitting at the seat at the table and not a seat around the table. (06:09): Yeah. It’s, it’s sort of like, it’s really different working for Elon Musk than it is advising Elon Musk than it is being Elon Musk. Right. <laugh> right. (06:21): I’m not sure I wanna go into all of the Elon Musk things that we could, but yes, (06:26): Just as an example, (06:28): Right. (06:29): Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’re currently working on, what’s going on with curiosity? Like, how’d you come up with that and, and more about having worked with you, you know, over the past year, I know how much passion you have for helping parents, you know, reclaim real, meaningful time with their kids. So just tell us, like, how did, how did you get there and, and talk more about curiosity. (06:49): Yeah. So, so first of all, curiosity is, is a mashup, probably not surprisingly to your audience of kids and curiosity, and (06:55): By the way, my favorite company name ever like ever, ever, ever <laugh>. (07:02): I, I love it. In fact, today I was uploading a, um, a video that we’re encouraging sort of parents to watch with their kids about, about bumblebees of all things and, and the person who was talking about it signs off with, uh, something like stay curious. And I was like, that is so brilliant. That’s perfect. Yes. I love it. So, so the story of how we came up with sort of curiosity was, uh, my co-founder will Giuliani. Who’s, who’s a great friend and, and a longtime colleague, you know, we just worked together for years in various ventures and always, you know, over lunch conversations, but talk about, you know, one day we should do something together, you know, kind of a thing. Yeah. And if I look back the common thread of the ideas that we used to sort of bounce back and forth, always seemed to have to do with sort of hearkening back to the days when family was a little more important. (07:51): And, and how do we sort of reduce the absolute craziness that it feels like life as a parent today is. And I don’t know if that’s just because I’m getting older and becoming one of those, you know, get off my lawn guys <laugh> or if truly parented today is more crazy and busy and, and things like that. But, you know, it’s, it’s the, the classic, let’s say it’s, it’s a, it’s a traditional sort of husband and wife and, and just, you don’t see each other hardly because you’re, you’re taking yeah. 18 different practices and the kids have to be there and different activities. And so the notion of, you know, an evening meal together is just such a difficult thing. And, and so we sort of saw that and felt that as, as parents ourselves and, and was like, gosh, what could we do to help kind of reinforce the value and make it easier for parents to spend those quality moments that we all think back upon? (08:45): And they’re not usually the big, oh my gosh, we planned this big trip or this big activity. So many of those moments that you look back on are just funny things that happened because you were sitting around the table and somebody laughed so hard that, you know, milk came outta their nose or whatever. And, and those are sort of the moments that, that create a shared history and, and really kind of what it means to be a family and, and, and how you feel so close, you know, to your kids and things like that. And so, and anyway, that was sort of the common thread of ideas. So we bounced through a D a lot of different ideas and ultimately sort of came up with ironically, uh, we often talk about curiosity is a digital platform and a technology play. That’s really designed to reduce our dependence on technology. (09:32): I love that (09:32): We’re delivering activities, we’re delivering opportunities to kind of learn together, explore together. We’re delivering conversation starters, really ways to connect, and we do so via, you know, digital. So it’s either you, your tablet or your, your phone, the native apps for both of those, um, and a website. But the hope is that you sort of read and, or get the idea from the phone, set it next to you, maybe at the counter or at the table, and then turn and face your children so that you can sort of engage one on one in truly kind of focus time together. Maybe it sounds a little dorky, but I think, I think most of us kind of pine for those days, and I’m gonna date myself here, <laugh> of leave it to beaver, or, you know, the, the Andy group, the show, or things like that when, when there was something about a family getting together with regularity and, and just spending time. And, and, and I say all these things, and I’m completely guilty of not being great about, uh, you know, all of the above, but it’s, it speaks to the challenge. (10:37): Well, which, which makes you perfect to build this right? Because you’re like, I experience this, I understand the challenges, I understand the guilt and the, the desire, but also that war that, that, you know, the people I’m trying to solve a problem for feel. Right. Yeah. I mean, you’re perfectly suited because you experience it and because you feel that pain. (10:57): Yep. No, it’s exactly right. And, and as you know, I’ve talked to so many parents. In fact, I, I don’t think I’ve, I’ve talked to a single parent who doesn’t kind of nod their head when I talk about these things, because it is it’s, it’s just our life. And I don’t know if, if this is unique to American parents or if this is, is more global, I tend to think that just, it’s probably more global and it’s probably just the way that life is anymore. And that, and as a parent, you feel like there’s so much expected of you and there’s, we end up, I think, putting more pressure on ourselves than we probably need yeah. Or deserve too. And so you end up sort of feeling like I’m not doing enough, I’m never doing enough. Mm. When in fact you actually might be doing enough. (11:39): And, and we have some amazing advisors from the university of Denver, um, that are professors and, and PhDs, and they they’ve shared so much information with us. But one of the, the key things has been, if all you’re able to do is spend five focused kind of minutes per day of special slash quality time, which basically means you gotta put your phone down and you gotta sort of just engage the developmental aspects for your kids are off the charts. Hmm. But I think equally importantly, the benefits to you as a parent are also off the chart because you just feel a little more grounded, a little more connected. And for those of us who are working parents, you feel a little bit less, like you’re not doing a good enough job at your work. You’re not doing a good enough job as a parent. And, and so you’re able to, I think, you know, just reduce some of that, uh, I don’t know guilt slash insecurity that we all feel that, that we’re trying to be great and serve multiple masters, which is, it’s just a hard thing to find that right balance. And I’d like to believe that curiosity helps at least make a dent in that challenge. (12:46): So I’m curious about this because there was a time where it wasn’t quite like this. I mean, you know, I, I grew up in the eighties and early nineties, right. I was born in 1981. Yes. I’m 40 years old. Um, <laugh>, which is just so weird. I wish (13:01): I was (13:01): 40 years old. I <laugh>, but, you know, I remember the simple things, like playing outside, coming home, sitting down and having a meal with my family, being at home more than I feel like kids are now, like every kid’s always got somewhere. They gotta be, they gotta be at volleyball. Now they gotta be at cheer or softball, or he’s gotta go to this D and D thing or what like, what is that? Like, why do we feel this need? It’s almost like parents got busy. And so then it was like, kids were like, okay, well, we’re gonna get busy too, since everybody’s just gonna be busy. Is there like a balance? And, and how do we find that? I mean, I don’t know if you’re an expert on this, but I kind of feel like you might have some insight (13:45): <laugh> well, I definitely would not claim to be an expert, but, but I, but both as a parent and, and just having, you know, read and, and been, been involved and, and so fascinated by, by this sort of problem, there’s something to what you said. And, and I don’t, I tend to think that often it is it’s the keep up with the Joneses. Mm. And it’s the, you know, my kid has to be on the best soccer team, or if they’re not taking three piano lessons a week, then they’re gonna fall behind and, and college is so important and it may be 15 years away, but I we’ve gotta be prepared. And, and, you know, (14:20): Ivy league preschool (14:22): <laugh> yes. I mean, on the east coast, there are preschools that sort of market themselves as, as your best bet toward the Ivy leagues, you know, and you’re, they’re (14:31): Like what (14:32): These are, you know, these are five year old or three or four year olds (14:36): <laugh>, (14:37): But that obviously works as a marketing sort of tactic mm-hmm <affirmative>. And you’re tapping into that, that vein within a lot of parents that is, you know, I’ve gotta be the best and my kid has to be the best. And, and unfortunately, I think too many parents associate their value with the success of their kids. And, you know, I’m certainly speaking outta school here, and this is more observation than, than research and sort of academic background, but that is so sort of prevalent, I think, in our society today that it, it leads to more focus on getting my child, every resource or every practice or, or, or those types of things. When in fact often the best way for them to learn and for them to grow is exactly what you said is go outside and explore the world and play, capture the flag, or play, kick the can yeah. And, and play with your neighborhood and, and things like that. And at, at my house, growing up, we had an old bell from an old Navy ship that was kind of this antique amazing. You could, I think you could hear it from miles away, practically. Oh, cool. But we would just go out and explore and then, you know, come dinnertime or come, you know, dark or whatever. My mom would come out and <laugh> (15:50): Ring the (15:51): Bell and just ring this bell. And it was this booming sound across, you know, and we would hear it and be like, oh man, we have to stop playing, you know? Yeah. Capture the flag under the lights or under the, the moon light. Yep. And come home. And, and you, when you look back, you realize how much you learned about kinda life lessons and you weren’t necessarily learning calculus or, or stem related things, but you’re maybe learning more important things than that. Yeah. In terms of how you engage with other people and, and how you relate and build relationships with your friends or with your friend, who’s not being very nice that day or, or all of those types of things. Uh, and I’m not suggesting that curiosity is the solution to that, but I am suggesting that we’d like to help promote more activities, more time together within people and ultimately kind of building relationship and building connections. Yeah. Between people. Because I feel like that’s, to some degree been chipped away at negatively over the last decades. And we’d like to try and fill some of that hole. That’s, that’s being created (17:00): And it’s creativity too. Right. Because if your day is so structured and you go to this thing and somebody tells you the rules, and then you go to this thing and somebody tells you the rules, and then you go to this thing and, and your life is filled with these things that are so structured. And so managed there. You know, I mean, we’re seeing this right now with my, my 20 year old, who is, you know, getting ready to be a junior in college and he doesn’t know how to be self directing. Yeah. Right. I mean, he’s been so managed his whole life up till now that when we say, Hey, kid, you need to go get a job or like do something during the day that like makes a difference. It maybe makes some money and like start to learn what it means to support yourself. And he just, his eyes get wide. And he’s like, so confused. Like he’s waiting for somebody to tell him what to do. And so I feel like there’s a creativity that we miss too in like learning how to self-manage and how to be resilient and how to deal with disappointment. And like all these things that we think of, as like, oh my gosh, that, you know, that, that just, you know, it just, that just doesn’t come naturally. But I think we’ve removed a lot of the experiences that help people learn those things. Right. (18:12): Gosh, you’re absolutely right. And, and I read an article recently and we publish a daily, uh, we call insights and inspiration for parents. And, and so they vary between a couple of different types of things, but one of those is articles and or research. And I recently read something about one of the best things for your kids, especially extra was relevant over the summer is boredom. (18:32): Yes. Oh, there’s nothing better. When a kid walks in and goes, I’m bored. I’m like, oh, I have so many chores. And they’re like, never-mind, (18:42): It’s a perfect response as a parent, because boredom is essentially the best source of creativity, you know, to your point. And you’re right. That has been lost a little bit because yeah, we have to have the kids in, in this or that activity or this or that lesson or this or that. Cause when I don’t think back about my childhood, some of my fondest memories are, you know, me and my brother going outside and making up a game where we used to have little like telephone poles that was sort of were lined our driveway. (19:13): Okay. (19:13): And the game was, we’d throw a ball back and forth. And every time we caught it, we could take one step. And so basically we just had to like go up and down our driveway, the dumbest thing ever, but I’m sure we spent hours (19:25): Having fun (19:26): Making up this game that was, you know, about throwing. I, I think it was a football or whatever, back and forth and yep. Inevitably, you know, the throw wasn’t great and you’d have to sort of jump and then you were allowed to jump, but then throw it back and whatever the makeup rules make up rules, or we made up, we used to play what we called mini tennis and we’d make a little court and we’d put two benches. And I think we had a little, I don’t even know what it was like a, a piece of wood between as our quote unquote net, net, and you would just play. And, and again, those types of things sometimes ended with, you know, rackets being thrown at each other because of course, you know, the, the loser, whatever <laugh>, but it was, it was ways to sort of both entertain yourself. And again, in hindsight, as a, as a grown up, you look back and you’re like, wow, what great lessons and what sort of great, true value there was in that, from education perspective, not just the, I, I kept myself busy for, you know, an hour. (20:22): Yes. A hundred percent. And I, I wanna talk a little bit about the technology piece, right. Because I think it was so great. You were like, you know, we’re using technology to try and encourage you or give you, I almost think of it, like give you more confidence to set the technology down because I know where my starting point is. Right. And oftentimes, you know, I mean, I do this with my spouse all the time or we’re, you know, we were sitting there last night. We got home at about eight 30 after dinner and I wasn’t feeling too well. So I went upstairs and I just kinda laid down in bed and started playing a game on my phone. Right. Just kind of a mindless whatever. And then I, I look up like 30 minutes later and I realize he’s been sitting there this whole time, scrolling on Facebook. (21:02): And I’m like, this is weird. <laugh> like, we’re right here. But then I, he kind of set his phone down and I set my phone down and I was like, I don’t know what to talk about. <laugh> I don’t know what I’m like, I guess we’ll just go back to what we were doing. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with comfortable silence. Right. But it is, it is almost like that overcoming the inertia of I’m doing my thing, you’re doing your thing. And we’re just kind of in our own space, which when technology is right in your hand, I mean, the iPhone was probably the most brilliant technology of our, of our lifetime and also the most destructive technology of our lifetime. And it was both of those things at once. Right. Yep. And so I just love how, how curiosity is like, we want to help give you that jumping off place to remind us that when you, when there wasn’t technology, we still had fun. We still did things. We still had great conversations, you know, like technology didn’t solve this big problem of like, we don’t know what to do with our lives. Right. It’s not like we were sitting around until 2007 going, I don’t know what to do, you know, <laugh> (22:11): Just waiting for, for right. (22:12): Waiting for someone to fill the void. (22:16): It’s so true. And, and the, what the, the anecdote you just shared with, with your husband is, is so kind of real. And it’s funny when you’re, you know, driving a carpool or sometimes seeing, you know, my, my kids or teenagers, and very frequently you’ll look down and, and there’s a group of, you know, four or five, you know, teenagers sitting there and they’re all on their phones. Yeah. And in fact, this summer, my son was playing a baseball game. And then we had a, you know, like an hour or two break between games. And so we all went to, uh, uh, you know, a restaurant to get some lunch or something. And at one point there was a row of, you know, eight boys kind of sitting along kind of a, the equivalent of a park bench, you know, in, in a restaurant type thing. And there was eight boys looking at their phones and a few of them actually engaging with each other (23:01): On their phones, (23:02): On their phones, but not, you know, just turning and talking, but, but, and that’s kind of the world we live in. So, and you’re absolutely right. We do think of ourselves as hopefully helping to, I love the way you put that sort of creating a jumping off point where you’re, you’re on that phone or you’re reading that question, that’s the conversation starter of the day. And then you sort of can turn and say, okay, let’s talk about this or whatever. Yeah. And I always tell this story too, is I’ve been known to, to have my kids roll their eyes. When I bring up a question, you know, at the dinner table or something like, oh boy, here comes dad with another life lesson. But when you, when I bring the question from the phone yeah. From this piece of technology now, instead of everyone sort of just piling on me and making fun of dad <laugh> now we can all look at the phone and we can all kind of collectively make fun of, oh my God, what a dumb question or whatever <laugh>, (23:51): But you still talk about it. Right. Yeah. You know, and you still have, you know, you still engage in, in that question, in, in the answer and, and the conversation. And usually the conversation is going an entirely different way. Yeah. And my wife or I, or somebody will actually share something from our background that the kids didn’t know. And then it’s like, wait, what, when did you do that? You know? And all of a sudden it turns into, and that’s the point and, and you it’s, it’s the, the ability to sort of engage in a conversation that isn’t the weather or yeah. The Broncos game this week, or, or, you (24:24): Know, the, or the same old question what’d you do in school today? How was work today? It’s like, well, we all know we’re gonna be like, it was fine. <laugh> (24:32): How was school today? Fine, fine. What’d you learn nothing, nothing. (24:35): <laugh>. Yeah. (24:38): And it’s probably how I would answer the same way too. Cause exactly. And so you’d need a prompt. Yeah. And, and so, and so one of the things that curiosity does that, that I really like is we, we create the ability to sort of send yourself a push notification, essentially a reminder. Yeah. And they’re just nudges that you can schedule, you know, on your own time. And often those are scheduled around the five to six o’clock hour. So that people sort of many who now are working at home more frequently. Yeah. We’ll get a little nudge that just says, Hey, Cynthia is now a good time to spend a few minutes with little Janie. And, and if you tap through it, it says got five or 10 minutes. Yep. Here’s a conversation starter got a little more time than that. Here’s an activity to do together. (25:18): Got more time than that. Here’s a topic that you can explore together. And, and there’s no obligation, there’s no guilt associated with that, but I’d like to believe it just is just enough of a prompt that says, you know what, I’m gonna go, um, stop what I’m doing and go talk, you know, talk to the kids or, or what have you. And, and so, um, to the extent that that is effective, it’s just, I’d like to believe the nudge that, that most parents need to stop what they’re doing. And you don’t need to get through that one more email, but go spend some quality time with your kids because both they will be benefited from it. And guess what? You’re gonna feel a whole lot better from it too. (25:56): Yeah. And, and like you said, it takes five minutes. Yes. It’s like nothing. Right. I mean, it seems so minuscule, but that five minutes, you know, every day can just be like, and the thing that I love that you always talk about is it’s like, don’t worry about doing it every day. Like when you do it, just engage for that five minutes. And, and if you do it once a week and then eventually you get it twice a week, like, yay. Right. I mean, it’s whenever, wherever, just, just start. Right. (26:25): It it’s exactly right. And I think I read some stats, um, that would suggest that the average number of time spent in quality conversation per week with a child. Mm. Is something like three minutes. (26:37): Oh my gosh. (26:38): And that isn’t to say that there aren’t other ways to spend time and, and, but it’s sure, sure. When you sort of see a stat like that and, and, and by the way, I’m, I’m guilty of probably falling into that median, you know, but to just get five minutes, twice a week, and, and to your point, maybe five minutes turns into 10 minutes and, and maybe over the course of time yeah. Your habits start to change. And it becomes a common thread that when we get in the car and we’re heading across town, maybe to soccer practice or, or whatever, we’re, I’m gonna pull out the app and I’m gonna ask you, uh, you know, to a question and hopefully it won’t be met with, you know, too much eye rolling or what have you, (27:18): Oh. If it is that’s character building for kids. That’s right. <laugh>, (27:22): That’s exactly right. So, but, but, but that’s, that’s a key part is ultimately the challenge of behavioral change because every parent intends to be a little more present, to do a little more that’s right. And, and to be a little better as a, as a, as a mom or a dad, what have you, it’s also easier not to sometimes where you’re just, you finish a long day of work and you’re just exhausted and it’s maybe a little easier to just put on, you know, frozen for the, for the 15th time. Yeah. And, and allow the kids to sort of do that while you’re sort of taking care of things. But, and the, the beauty of, I think what I’d like to believe that curiosity is, is it can be that where it can keep your child busy. So within these topics that we create, you know, a child could watch a three to five minute video typically about something that they might be interested in, whether it’s an animal or a character trait or something. And, and one of our parents put it this way. They said, oh my gosh, that’s perfect. You’re giving me the AlleyOOP. (28:20): Yeah. (28:20): And I was like, okay, you’re gonna have to explain to me what you mean by the alley <laugh>. And, and this person said, well, I can be kind of getting them the, our meal ready. For example, my daughter could be sitting at the, at the dining room table or at the island, and she can be watching this video and I can swing by and just read the discussion question. That’s you’ve that you’ve provided for us. And so after this three minute video, now we I’m still making the salad, or I’m still sort of getting things ready for the, for the meal and my daughter. And I can now have a conversation about that topic and it’s it. And I should probably clarify that it’s not a comprehension type question it’s just related to that topic. So, so one that I was looking at actually yesterday was sunflowers is one of the things that you could sort of learn about and did you know that the tallest sunflower that, that has ever been recorded I think is like 30 feet, tall, (29:13): 30 feet that’s, what’s out of a (29:15): Building. Right. And, but so you, so one of that, I think one of our questions is what would life be like if you were 15 feet tall? (29:22): Oh, I love that. (29:23): It’s all of a sudden, you’re, you’re engaging with your kids about, there’s sort of there’s creativity to your earlier point. There’s imagination, there’s empathy in a lot of these things. And, and so yeah, all of a sudden you’ve taken a topic sunflowers and turned it into a, a conversation that just might lead to the opportunity to share a life lesson and, and to share some of your experiences that all of a sudden your kids realize that you’re a person too. And, and, and these types of things. And so if we’re successful in the way that we envision, we could be, those are the types of moments that we help parents to create, which ultimately leads to more connection, a deeper relationship and, and better kind of family dynamics that I think overall, we all know go a long way towards improving the plight of, of society in, in today’s day and age. (30:14): Oh yeah. I love that. I love that. Okay. So I wanna, I wanna shift tack a little bit here, and I want to ask you, what do you think is the most important lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur? Because, you know, we’ve been talking about this company that you’re building, you’ve had to gain like a lot of subject matter expertise to be able to build a solution and to understand its behavior versus intent, and like all this stuff that we’ve been talking about. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So for other entrepreneurs who are listening, what do you think is the most important lesson that you’ve learned as part of this journey? Inspiration has struck. You’ve stumbled upon a great idea that you just know will change the world. So now what, at Precursa, we provide the best tools to help founders and entrepreneurs, just like you turn their great ideas into great companies that solve real problems for real people. We believe you are the change makers, the innovators, and the force that moves technology forward. All you need is an experienced guide to keep you on track and help you navigate the turbulent waters of starting up Precursa is that guide. And with us, your roadmap to successful launch is more direct with far fewer pitfalls, ready to change the world. ERSA has your back. (31:39): Wow. That’s a, that’s a million dollar question because I, I probably got a list, you know, a mile long of lessons I’ve learned, but I would, I would say what, what comes to mind first, um, when you ask that is, is an, an interesting sort of balance between patience and grit. Mm. And by that, I sort of mean you’re gonna learn so much. And as much as you’d like to sort of lay out over the course of the next, you know, I don’t know, month or week or, or quarter, this is how I plan to sort of go about, I’m gonna learn this. I’m gonna learn that. That’s great. That’s a, that’s a, a, a really logical, methodical way of thinking about learning and, and, and sort of doing things. But the learning happens at its own pace. (32:28): Yeah. (32:29): <laugh>, if there’s one common thread that I’ve heard from many, many mentors is that it just takes longer than you expect. And, and so, yeah. You know, I have to almost pick my head up from time to time and look back and say, oh my gosh, I’ve learned so much about, both, about, you know, subject matter expertise that, that we’ve talked about at, at decent amount. Yeah. But also sort of building a business and, and how much time should I dedicate to, you know, putting together our financials, you know, every month or something like that versus trying to sell versus talking to other people and, and, and sort of learning. And, and it, it all ultimately kind of comes together, but never in the way that you think it will, and never as quickly as you think it will. <laugh>, we are all sort of diluted that, that we’re gonna become the next, you know, and I’ll say Facebook, but just because that’s an easy one, right. (33:20): That’s a one in a million, maybe it’s a one in a billion, I don’t even, but, but those things don’t happen yeah. At the pace and at the speed that they happen. And, and you’ve shared with me, and, and this is one of my favorite statistics is that, you know, the average company, 90% of startups don’t ever get to sort of a 10 million, you know, annual rate of return or annual run rate of, of revenue. And, and those that do the average is that it takes them is 12 years. And that’s been so kind of comforting when things don’t just fall together, as you hope they would. And that, oh my gosh, we’re gonna go raise some money and we’re gonna then, you know, hit this milestone and that milestone. And yet when you look back, you actually are achieving quite a lot. And, and so you can never slow down because, you know, it’s gonna take time. (34:06): So you, you always are racing a, you know, a million miles an hour, it feels like, but you also have to be moving that quickly, recognizing that it’s gonna take a long time. So that’s kind of the, the juxtaposition I was referring to earlier that it’s, and, and it’s, it’s been one of those lessons where it’s like, you can’t slow down, but you also have to get comfortable that it’s gonna take time. Yeah. And, and for someone like me, that’s hard, you don’t get the regular pat on the backs or successes, you know, every week kind of a thing. They take a long time sometimes to sort of come to fruition. And sometimes you’re not sure that it’s ever gonna come to fruition. Yeah. And, and sort of managing and dealing with that is, it’s his challenge. (34:51): You, I know you and I have talked about this, but, you know, we’ve talked about the overnight success myth, like so many times. Right. And right. And I remember when Sarah Blakely sold part, you know, a majority stake in, in spanks last year, and she was described as this overnight success. And I was like, yeah, 21 years, I mean, come on. And it’s exactly what you’re talking about. Right. It’s like, you’ve got every, every overnight success. And I’m putting that in quotes is preceded by 15 to 20 years of really hard work. Yeah. You know, and it’s really easy to sum it all up. I mean, before, before we started this episode, we were talking about how I built this, which is great podcast and it’s, so yes, it’s such great insight into how do people do things and how do you build a company, but it’s also kind of unrealistic because it’s sort of like a sitcom, right? Like every problem can be solved in 30 minutes. Well, who knows the length of time that he elapsed between one scene and another, and that’s sort of what you’ve done is you’ve taken 20 years and like compacted it down into, you know, a 30 minute conversation. And so it feels like when you’re in it as an entrepreneur, and you’re like, you know, shouldn’t, I be making a few million bucks a year by now, like what’s going on. And it’s just, it creates this really unrealistic expectation. That’s super hard to live up to. (36:11): No, that’s so true. And, and it’s funny, cuz that is one of my, one of, one of the podcasts that I, I come back to with some regularity. But when you really take another step back, you realize they’re not talking to companies that have maybe sometimes called lifestyle businesses, but maybe have, have been successful, but not wildly successful. Right. And, and so, you know, you, you tend to start to build up almost, almost subconsciously this notion that it should take, you know, a few years. And, and even when you get to your point, when you boil it down into a 30 minute con you sort of, you, you look back at the milestones along the way, and those are what are discussed. Yeah. (36:49): And, and maybe those have, maybe there are three big milestones a year for the first 10 years or something. Yeah. In our podcast, I’m just talking about boom, boom, boom. They don’t talk about the four months or the six months between that first sale. That’s right. And that first, you know, big raise or, or, you know, the big revenue sort of bump or whatever it was. And so we all kind of walk around feeling like, gosh, we must be failing if, if we’re not. And, and there’s a little bit of that that’s healthy. Right. Cause it’s a little bit motivating to, to be, gosh, I gotta do more. I gotta do better, but you can’t let it sort of knock you down and, and, and keep you down. And, and, and that’s hard. That’s easier said than done, especially when you’re not going into an office and then, you know, connecting with six or eight or 10 or, or 20 or a hundred people, you’re kind of doing it on your own. And that’s hard to deal with too is being self-motivated enough that you don’t beat yourself up too much when you don’t have yeah. Positive reinforcement on the regular. (37:52): Yeah. Totally. Makes sense. What do you think is the most important personality trait or characteristic someone should have to be a successful entrepreneur? (38:02): Gosh, I would, I would probably say, and, I’ll cheat here and say both grit, which means you get up every day and you just keep going. And also curiosity because if you get up every day and just keep going, but you’re heading down the wrong path, then you’re gonna get pretty far down the wrong path. Right. Right. But if you’re curious and you’re, and you’re sort of constantly not, not doubting necessarily, but constantly wondering. Yeah. Could I be doing this more efficiently? Could a different market be the better place for this. Yep. And, and so I would say the combination of those two with, with a little bit of challenge on the curiosity side, because it’s also easy, especially in the early stage of being enamored with the next <laugh>, you know, the grass is always greener or the next, you know, shiny rock. (38:48): And pretty soon you’re just spinning around in circles. And I’ve definitely gone through a phase like that, where it was like, oh my gosh, this would be the perfect product for grandparents. Yeah. Or this would be the perfect product for nannies or babysitters or things like that. And it may be that those might be valuable things, but pretty soon you’re trying to be all things to all people. And, and you’re not focused enough that you can keep kind of moving forward. And so all these are just the challenges. And, but, but I really like, I think the notion of the combination of, of grit and perseverance along with curiosity where you’re trying to figure it out because yeah, I love that. It’s, it’s a heck of a puzzle to put together. <laugh> (39:31): Ain’t that the truth. All right. So I’m gonna give you a statistic and then I want you to tell me what you think about it. Okay. Okay. No right. Or wrong answers. Everybody always says that. Well, I don’t know what the answer is. There’s no right or wrong answer. I just wanna what you think. Okay. All right. So 42% of startups ultimately fail because no one wants what they’re building. (39:49): I think there’s a decent amount of, I mean, obviously that’s a statistic, right? So there’s truth to that. But my reaction is that, and, and I, I fight it myself too, because we’ve, we’ve, I think done a good job of validating the problem that we’re trying to solve. So, so there is a problem there and, and people do, I think, want a solution to that problem. Yep. Whether our solution is the right solution is, is that thing that, you know, you just, you beat yourself up on all the time. And so you keep sort of iterating and iterating. I can’t remember where I heard this quote, but somebody said, you know, the graveyard of startups is full of great products and, or interesting products. Right. It’s, it’s the old beta max versus VHS, um, you know, kind of thing. Yep. That statistic both is accurate obviously. (40:37): And it also is, is almost troublesome because I feel like we are a little bit like, like, I really like the product that we built. Yeah. I’m confident that it addresses the problem we’re trying to address. Yep. But we are in that stage where we’re trying to find the best audience and, or the right audience for it and find the, you know, the, the product market fit. And that’s, I think certainly along my journey, that’s been the hardest part thus far of that journey is knowing what we know and knowing that we’ve got a product that, that is, that holds together, it’s, it’s a solid product. And, and I feel confident with that because for 20 years I’ve been kind of a product guy in, in technology company. Yeah. But you gotta find the right audience. Yeah. And so, you know, that’s maybe the hardest part is, I dunno, what you call it, whether it’s the sales cycle or, or the, the product market fit exploration. (41:32): Yeah. All of that is, is not easy and it’s not been, you know, my background necessarily. And so I do feel good that we’ve built a good product to address the problem that I know exists because we’ve had a bunch of validation of that. Yeah. And now it’s just, what’s the best place for it. And how do you find that and how do you kind of, you know, get enough traction that you can keep exploring and keep kind of figuring out how to evolve the product and how to make it sort of the right fit for the slight nuance that is this group versus that group. Yeah. And so those are the challenges and it’s intellectually fascinating. And, and really, as I said, curiosity, it, it makes me, you sort of get up every day and be like, oh, who, you know, where could this go? Uh, but balancing that with remaining focused and, and all of these things, these are, I think the biggest challenges that, that I’ve certainly felt, you know, over the course of, of this journey. (42:32): Yeah. It’s so interesting. Cuz you talked about sales cycle, you talked about product market fit. It’s kind of all of those things, but it’s also, you know, we, as entrepreneurs, we get so excited, we’re like every parent should have this, right? Like this is an answer, but in order it’s so counterintuitive in order to get to that level where you get some traction and start to build that product market fit and have repeatable sales process, you gotta niche down and it’s gotta be more like, yeah, parents who have two working parents with children between these ages who have this characteristic in common and are in these industries or something at least like, and it seems like while you just narrowed the pool from, you know, 300 million people to like two and a half million people and it’s like, let me promise you, if you can sell to 10% of two and a half million people, you’ve got something. (43:24): Right. <laugh> but, but in our minds as entrepreneurs, we’re like, I wanna, I wanna solve everybody’s problem. And that’s like the hardest part. And we struggle with that in Precursa too, cuz we’re like, all entrepreneurs need this. Like this is startup university, but you can’t start with, Hey, all entrepreneurs because some people don’t know it’s for them. Right? Yeah. Like you have to target people in a way where they go, that’s exactly my problem and exactly how I talk about it and exactly what I need. Right. And that’s what you’re talking about is finding that thing is really hard and it takes so much discipline. (43:58): Well, and even if, if you do the research to find that thing, it makes it easier to then get access to and, and turn that those people into your audience, it’s easier to find. It’s not necessarily easier to, to market them in the right way and, and position yourself in the right way and sort of get to them. So identification is one thing and then actually sort of targeting and reaching is another thing. And, and yes, you know, you’re, you’re right on it. That, that is. And I’d like to say that, that I could just give you the, my playbook for it’s step a, B, C, and D is how you sort of solve that. But one of the things I’ve learned is it’s never quite that easy. And, and so you feel like you’re in a blender. Yeah. And you’re just sort of going around and, and kind of getting beat up. (44:42): And yet again, you step back every once in a while and pick your head up and you look back and you’re like, gosh, we’ve learned a lot. And now we are more focused on a tightly refined sort of group. And now it’s just doing the work, the hard work to actually reach that audience. And, and the other thing I think that I would add to that is one of my favorite mentors, Mike Bowden, who was one of the founders of home advisor service magic Angie shared is, you know, don’t rush to revenue. And so from that, I, I sort of put these two together of if we need to sort of give it away or give it away at a, at a steep discount. And I try to sort of always have some dollar value there to be associated with it. But for us at this stage of the game, there’s almost more value in just getting more people engaging using so that we’re getting feedback. (45:34): So that we’re understanding how we could sort of tweak it and make it better to become that behavioral change agent, you know, et cetera, versus having a few dollars or the unit economics that look brilliant or whatever at our stage, I I’m very comfortable, I guess I shouldn’t say comfortable cause that has a connotation of financial comfort, right? There’s not as much financial comfort in giving your product away for a pittance of what you think it’s worth, but that’s value. And, and for us to sort of just have parents engaging and feeling better about themselves and, and allowing us to generate metrics that, that sort of underscore the positive impact that we’re having goes a long way. (46:17): Yeah. I love that. I love that. So if you could give other entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be? (46:25): Follow your dream and persevere because it’s going to take four X longer than you think, or two X longer, 10 times longer, 10,000 times longer, it’s going to take time and the journey’s gonna go very differently than you think it will. And that might include things like I’ve gotta get in supplemental income for a little while because I sort of can’t keep at it. And those are the things you don’t think about. Yeah. When you’re, when you’re gonna sort of start this, but if you still believe, and, and if the mission is truly, and, and the vision is, is close to your heart, if you can just kind of stick through it. Yep. It’s amazing how, and maybe this is part of that creativity and the curiosity that we’ve been talking about, you find ways to kind of make your life work while you’re still trying to make this thing, bring it to life and, and realize what, what can be realized. (47:20): And so, yeah, so there’s some sticktuitiveness I think that I would say is, is the biggest piece of advice because no matter how great your idea is, or how kind of perfect the lawn chairs are are, or the deck chairs are sort of set up for you, it’s just gonna go a different direction. And, and there’s probably the only thing that you can say with certainty <laugh> is the, the route between a point A and point B is gonna be incredibly circuitous <laugh>. And if you can sort of set yourself up to, to be able to manage the inevitable twists and turns (47:59): Yeah. (48:00): That’s how you can make something successful. And that’s how you get to year 21 of your overnight success, right? Yeah. (48:07): <laugh> oh my gosh. That was that’s so funny. That’s awesome. Do you have any, uh, recommendations for podcasts or books or other types of resources that you would recommend that are, have been helpful on your journey that might be helpful to other entrepreneurs? (48:23): The first book that comes to mind is, is the lean startup and just kind of the principles there are just so applicable to maybe maybe more so to kind of technology startups, but doing more with less and being very creative with how you sort of go about building something. Yes. And, and being comfortable, not necessarily following a playbook or somebody else’s plan and, and knowing that, although the principles at play are probably right, there are so many sort of micro changes that can be made as you try and realize and, and check off the miles posts of each of those principles. But those are the two things that, that are the first that come to my mind. Okay. And then it’s, I, there’s probably some, a bunch of self-help books about there about sort of trusting yourself and being strong through the inevitable challenges. Yeah. (49:15): And setbacks and, and roadblocks that you’re gonna encounter. Those are the things that I feel like have, have served me the best as I look back sort of to this journey that, that we’ve been on. And I’d like to say that I’m now talking from this wildly successful business that <laugh>, and I hope that, that there’s a day in the future when that will be more the case. But I do have trust that, that if, if we can keep sort of overcoming and just keep putting one step in front of the other yep. That ultimately we’re gonna get to a place that, that is successful even without a hardcore version of what success means, you know? (49:54): Yeah. (49:55): To us success isn’t necessarily, you know, being on the cover of Forbes magazine with having built a unicorn. Yep. Success is making a, a real impact in the lives of parents and doing so in a way that takes advantage of the, the economic opportunity that I think follows making an impact like that. And I’d like to believe that that’s gonna lead to financial stability and, and, and, and ultimately obviously a lot more than that, hopefully, but I I’d like to believe that that if, if we keep our eyes on, on making the biggest impact that we have the economic kind of benefits and the financial rewards of that will be meaningful. (50:36): Yeah. I, I love something. You just, you just kind of said, which is like, we always talk about the business side of things. Right. But you, you know, you mentioned self health books and it’s kind of like entrepreneurship is just as much about psychology and personal growth as it is about business, which is why, you know, you mentioned early, you know, early on that you have an MBA. And I always laugh, you know, when I work with people who have MBAs, because they think, oh, I have all the business acumen I need. And I’m like, yes, but have you done the work inside? <laugh>, (51:06): That’s such a great insight be BEC and, and I’ve told people that this is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. And, and, and I’ve had my share of, of kind of wins and, and successes in career or, or yeah. You know, athletics or, or different things like that. But, but this is, is more realization and, and, and sometimes not so great where, where, where you question, gosh, do I have the ability to do this? And, and I certainly haven’t answered all of those questions by any means <laugh> but, but when you do look back and, and you think about man, I’m growing a lot because of this, and I’m learning a lot because of this. And I know I’m setting myself up for the next challenge, whatever that is. And hopefully it’s the evolution of this business as it just grows and it, and, and you end up having more leadership responsibility and different types of responsibilities. (51:58): That’s my goal. Yeah. But even if it doesn’t ultimately get there, I know I’m, I’m kind of building my toolkit if you will, of, of kind of skills and experiences that will serve me. Well, no matter what the next thing is, and, and almost whether that’s career or personal or, or what have you, there’s just, that’s one of the things I did not anticipate or realize when I started this journey, that there would be so much kind of growth and challenge and failure, but failure leads to good things usually. And, and so that’s been a difficult lesson, but a really, really valuable one too. (52:34): <laugh> I love that, Andy. Thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being so vulnerable. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for taking on this challenge that we all have as parents where we’re like, I want more of that connection and interaction with my kid, but I’m so busy and I don’t know how to get it. Like thank you for being willing to dive into that and start to help sort that out because there’s millions of parents and millions of children who need it. So thank you for your passion and thank you for sharing that with us today. We really appreciate (53:07): It. My pleasure, Cynthia, thank you so much. And, and I hope your editors are able to not have to spend too much time cutting out all my thumbs and awes and everything else, but it (53:17): You’re perfect. You’re (53:18): Perfect. It’s been a fun conversation and, and it’s, it’s really been a fun kind of passion project that, that I hope we can get over that hump to the point where we can make the impact that I think is necessary and wanted out there. (53:32): Yes. Yes. And if listeners have questions for you or they wanna get in touch or they wanna follow curiosity, you know, what’s the best way for them to, to, to stay in the loop. (53:42): Yes. So, you know, we’re, we’re at curiosity at Instagram, I think we’re the same at LinkedIn. The best way maybe to reach out from, to me would be via LinkedIn is a good one. It’s just Andy Zurcher. And, and honestly, I, I don’t mind, uh, a direct email. So to the extent that that’s of interest to folks, it’s just andy@curiosity.com and, and curiosity is just, you know, K I D IO S I T Y. Perfect. So I would love to hear from, from listeners and would love to hear from parents who could, could benefit and, or, or have ideas or, or things like that. Uh, there’s never too much knowledge to sort of be absorbed as we’re, as we’re trying to figure out and put together this puzzle. Awesome. (54:21): All right. Well, I’ll make sure and include that in the show notes. Thank you again so much for being with us today. My friend, it’s been a pleasure. (54:26): Thank you so much, Cynthia. I really, really appreciate the opportunity. You’re welcome. (54:31): All right. Thanks for joining us for this episode as always happy entrepreneur, and I will see y’all next time. Thank you for listening to this episode of Precursa: The Startup Journey. If you have an idea for a startup and you want to explore the proven process of turning your idea into a viable business, check us out at precursa.com. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode. Until next time… (55:08): It all starts with your idea. Scratch that your great idea. So you do your homework in because you’re a doer. You make a plan, you raise the capital, you find a good developer and boom, your app is born, but even the best plans for these great ideas rarely turn out. So linear testing, bugs, user feedback, and unforeseen setbacks can make an expensive mess of things. Did you know that on average, you’ll spend more than $600,000 over 36 months to realize zero revenue. In fact, in 20 18, 40 6% of startups failed because they lacked the experience and skillset to successfully navigate this challenging entrepreneurial journey, even worse, 42% of these great ideas failed simply because there was no market for the product in the first place. The good news, there’s a better way. Precursa provides qualified, specific, experienced feedback from those who have taken this journey before. That’s the kind of informed research Google can’t provide. Precursa provides a time tested sequential roadmap, meaning you’ll always know the answer to the ever present question. Now what Anne Precursa has successfully navigated the stressful turbulent, but necessary steps to start of success. So when you’re ready to take the leap, your roadmap to successful launch is more direct with far fewer pitfalls. We believe entrepreneurs like you change the world and we provide you with the best tools to get there.  

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Cynthia Del'Aria

Cynthia Del'Aria is a serial entrepreneur and tech startup ninja, specializing in product-market fit and idea validation and helping new entrepreneurs reserve their time and money for the idea with the best shot at success. With two successful exits before 30, an active high-profit-margin SaaS in the commercial airline space, and two additional startups in the works, she knows what it takes to traverse the entrepreneur journey, the highs, and the challenges of turning a vision into a successful, viable business.

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  • Denver, Colorado

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Copyright © 2021 Precursa  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Site Created by Natalie Jark

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